Friday, August 29, 2008


So I was at this aunty's place for a dinner invitation. We were chatting on many things, and the topic turned to her basement tenants.

"Oh I never rent to black people." She then goes on a tirade against black people. "These people never pay their rent on time, are always on welfare, have no family structure! You rent to a single woman with a kid and soon she has millions of 'boyfriends' visiting her and they are dirty and ..."

It was quite uncomfortable. Some people at the table tried to steer the conversation somewhere else and ultimately they succeeded.

After dinner someone turned on the TV and CNN was talking about Obama.

"Oh, Obama!" The aunty starts again. "I hope he wins. He is telling the truth, and America needs someone like him now. But you know what...these... AMERICANS... they will NEVER vote for a black man, ... they are very racist!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

An Interview

There's nothing like enjoying a three week vacation with no studies to worry about. It helps though that the weather has been really, really good! August is almost always a depressing month because summer is coming to an end (and as a sign of that, the CNE is here!).

I recently got interviewed by Ghazala Khan of the Pak Spectator here.

I don't have much to add here; will return with a new series of posts on Ramadan when it gets here, however, I do want to say one thing to the journalists.

The Beijing Olympics is over!!! Please don't bother me with articles about reminiscing on the Games, or "looking back", or a "review". It's over.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Boy Who Would'nt Shoot

I got this from a friend and I thought it was very, very sad.

So do you know who Abhinav Bindra is? He is the current World and Olympic champion in the 10 m Air Rifle event. He is also the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Now how many of you know who Asif Hossain Khan is? In the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Abhinav Bindra won the silver medal. Guess who won gold? Asif Hossain Khan from Bangladesh? So where was Asif in Beijing?

On October 2, 2006, after a rough incident between police and shooting federation staff, police broke into the federation premises and assaulted several shooters including Asif. Asif and his fellow shooters were preparing for the 2006 Asian Games to be held at Doha on November 2006. An altercation occurred between a police chauffeur and a federation guard regarding the parking of a car. Following this, police came to the spot and, according to witnesses, beat "whoever they found". Police beat Asif in multiple areas and severely injured his left arm and leg.

Asif said, "We, in fact, tried to stop the brawl but police would not listen to us". He also tried to protect himself by asserting his identity and success to his attackers. However, the police appeared to intensify their violence after this revelation. He, along with four other shooters and staff, were taken to the police station and beaten again. They were later sent to court by the police. Asif was granted bail from the court and was admitted to hospital. Doctors suggested that his arm muscles were badly injured and would take time to recover. His leg was also injured seriously and doctors were uncertain of when he would be able to practice again. Asif's mental and emotional trauma was also apparent as he claimed he would give up shooting. [source]

Do you know what this parking incident was? This fight was about some police DIG's chauffeur trying to park his car at a no-parking spot. The DIG's wife was in the car, not the DIG. The fight broke between the chauffeur and some guard who insisted not to park. So, for a freaking chauffeur who so desperately needed to illegally park his car, we lost a possible gold medal in the Olympics. Here's to the army solving all of Bangladesh's problems.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kinds of Studiers For Exams

At last all my exams are done. I can finally enjoy what’s left of the summer for the next 3 weeks.

I have realized that there really are four different kinds of studiers for exams.

There’s me – the Last Minute-r. I mean, sure there’s THREE WEEKS till the exams, great! Plenty of time. Oh, I see, only one weekend left. That’s ok. I will study on Sunday. Saturday is for having fun. Oh, I haven’t seen this episode of Star Trek. Oh GREAT… only one night left. Study. Panic. Study. Repeat.

Then there’s the Do-You-Know-ers. They will pop up every hour on MSN (after all, can’t have studies without being on MSN, right?) and say “Hey did you study the WACC equalization theory?” and you are shitting in your pants going WHAT WACC EQUALIZATION THEORY and they go “here it’s mentioned on a side note in chapter 21 subsection 14-5” and it’s marked “not on exam”. While you are fuming they will then add “oh it’s just interesting to know”.

Then there’s the “I-am-skipping-that”-ers. Basically, whenever you buzz them with “Psst.. how do you solve chap 10 qn 23” they will reply with “Oh I am skipping that”. You wonder course after course how they pass.

Finally, there’s the “I-know-a-guy”-er. For some reason, this dude ALWAYS has a collection of past papers for the last ten years of this course, sorted by difficulty and sub sorted by professor, along with answer keys. You always wonder HOW on earth he does it when NO ONE can find any past paper and his answer always is “I know a guy”. Of course then the actual exam has NOTHING in similarity to the past paper because they changed the book (yet again) or the prof, and you fume at the time you wasted. Yet the very next course once again you will go to him.

Ok, now I can have my life back.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Le Riots!

I was eating dinner and decided to watch TV. I switched it on and turned to CBC. It was during the middle of a news bulletin.

"... the police for their own safety just stood and watched while the rioters smashed store windows and set cars on fire ..."Man! I thought. This Iraq thing is getting way out of control.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that it was Montreal, Canada!

Yes, apparently there was riots last night in Montreal over the shooting of a visible minority youth by the police. Googling over the news, I found tales of people who tell of police harrassing them because they are congregating, have a nice car or are being "profiled". [The Star]Still, it was a shock to see such rioting and lawlessness on the streets of Canada. Maybe it's a French thing (I am looking at you, Paris riots). After all, it's Quebec.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making the Case for Good

I was attending our Managing International Talent class. The topic was of Canadian businesses expanding overseas and encountering standards different to our own - which one do we use? What about ethics?

I gave the following (real) example. A famous language school teaching English in Canada has opened a branch in one of the oil rich Middle East nations. Now in Canada, when we hire someone, we don't care whether the person is black or white, male or female - we just care whether he or she can speak good English, teach it, and hold proper credentials. Not so in this country. There, it's quite common to see recruitment ads specifying ethnicity, gender etc.

In that Arab nation, almost all English language schools hire white Anglo-Saxons to teach English (even if they are Irish!) because the local students can never properly accept a brown skinned teacher (someone beneath them) teaching English.

So I asked this question to the class: Should the class also hire by color and ethnicity, because it makes good business sense?

The lecturer's reply to me was memorable.

"No matter how low the ethical standards of a country are, we cannot imagine that they will always stay that way. To do that is to undermine the basic human nature of self improvement. We have to believe that someone, somewhere, will say no, to judge a candidate by their skin colour is wrong, and so on. We have to believe that things will eventually improve in that country and they will also start to hire by competency and pretty soon everyone in that country will do that."

"In this school we teach you to be leaders. Everyone can be a follower and make money in the short term. Here, we teach you to innovate, to be leaders, to be the force of change. And so I would suggest that if you were running that school, you should hire by competency and uphold the Canadian standards, which were higher. Because - ultimately they will follow those standards, and then you would have been the leader in setting standards, not following them. There is always a business case to be made for ethics."

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Kuwait and Bangladeshi Workers

Most of the Muslim Student Associations in universities in North America have a very vocal content about supporting Palestine issues. Many of them also have a strong pro-Arab camp, where they harp on supporting the Arab countries against Israel on many issues, and whenever Arabs are mistreated or discriminated against, it is painted as an "Islamic" issue. Many converts to Islam here also have an idolized view of the Arab lands.

Having lived in the Middle East before, I have a different view on these issues. Here's something I caught on the news recently.

Some time ago Bangladeshi workers in Kuwait went on strike because they had not been paid by the Kuwaiti authorities for more than 3 months. These are already dirt poor people doing menial jobs saving whatever scraps they can to help their families back in Bangladesh. So what did the Kuwaitis do?

They beat up the striking workers, locked many of them up and deported them all to Bangladesh. There were also tales of torture when those deported people reached Bangladesh.

Today, I found a letter in Kuwait Times where one resident writes "Bangladeshi cleaners, Thank you."
I would to thank all the Bangladeshi cleaners who used to collect the garbage from sunset until sunrise, to clean up the dirt and the leftovers of mine and of all residents of Kuwait. They were, in fact, doing a great job and excellent work.
While we enjoyed the luxury of new, clean clothes every day, the dirty, yellow dirty uniform was the costume that they lived, ate and maybe even slept in.
Salaries: Why do you work? This is not a new topic, it's an old one and a natural request. Why do any of us go to work and how many of us would work for free?
Meanwhile, now Kuwait, probably hit by the garbage on the streets, have admitted responsibility (where have we heard this before?).

I have said it before and I have said it again, the problem lies in governments of countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka making no attempt to ban their citizens from working in slavery-conditions in these countries. Blind by the lure of foreign currency and cash these workers bring, they have trampled on their welfare and rights.

Next time an Arab supporting MSA comes around to ask me for support against Israeli oppression against Palestinians, I am going to ask, "how are you any better".